“It’s been a while! Ah, Lizia-sama, you look like you’re doing well.”
I answered, ‘Nice to meet you,’ by reflex to the young man who greeted me so refreshingly, and I was extremely perplexed by him.
Wh-who are you…? I don’t remember you at all.
For you to say ‘It’s been a while,’ we must have met before. I’m sorry, but I’m really bad at memorizing people’s faces. Moreover, this person has a face that’s hard to remember, seeing as he has no special features.
It would have been extremely difficult of me to ask, ‘Who’s this person?’ after having already told him, ‘Nice to meet you,’ out of reflex.
“I didn’t think you were coming. You saved us.”
“It’s just by chance that I was dropping in nearby. Being able to work together with you again is an honor.”
Contrary to me who was left alone, Bern shook hands with the mysterious young man in a friendly manner.
The first thing that I focused on as soon as I heard that Elmenhilde was arrested was getting better.
Even though I’m usually useless, I need to attend to my cold first before I could even talk about saving her.
And that’s why I slept for one day. Even though I said that I couldn’t sleep out of worry, I slept quite well. Which made me think it was heartless of me to do so.
That’s what I thought, but the worst was that Bern needed to prepare and had to wait for someone.
Because of that, I had to trust Bern’s words that horrible things weren’t happening to Elmenhilde while she was locked up and focus on getting better. Thanks to that, my fever has gotten extremely better.
And this morning, what waited for us at the meeting place was this mysterious young man.
Behind him seems to be a pair that looks like they work silently behind the scenes and aren’t ordinary people.
He said they’re all Lucas’ subordinates.
As expected, Lucas assumed we’d have a lot on our plates and quickly sent them over.
The young man looked the most unreliable of them all, but I was surprised when I found out he was the leader of the trio.
We entered a nearby restaurant and ordered each of our respective drinks.
Because the restaurant barely opened just before noon, there weren’t that many customers yet, and when the owner brought out our drinks, he immediately went back to the kitchen.
After watching him go back, the young man blinked his eyes twice and started talking.
“What’s the situation?”
“As always, she’s still locked up in one of the rooms in the residence. Doesn’t look like they’ll be taking her out any time soon.”
The young man groaned while stroking his chin.
“I guess we can only proceed with preparing the reception.”
That somewhat slow and shameful tidbit at the end seemed familiar just now. When I heard that, his height looked somewhat familiar to me.
Nevertheless, he’s a really mysterious person and an acquaintance of Bern that replies so casually while Bern talks to him politely.
“Wouldn’t entering be difficult, then?”
“Nah, it’s going to be easy. Since we can walk around town normally like this, she probably hasn’t mentioned us at all. The security is so-so as well, but their purpose is more to prevent anybody from leaving rather than trespassing.”
“Meaning, the problem lies in how we get her out.”
He says, ‘I wonder what we should do,’ but compared to his words, he doesn’t look that troubled.
“Don’t you already have a plan?”
“… It might cause a slightly big uproar though.”
“That’s fine. The chief said to leave everything to you, so if it comes to worst, he’ll take care of it.”
By chief, do they mean Duke Rottger?
It somehow makes him sound very important.
Both the young man and Bern stayed silent for a few seconds, and suddenly laughed. It was a laugh that came out of nowhere.
“As usual, you like to joke around. Are you still entering places through windows?”
“That’s because windows are the best place to enter from. Lucas-sama does it often as well.”
Hmm? Entering through windows?
If we’re talking about a weird person who’s a subordinate of Lucas that I’ve met before, talks casually with Bern, and enters from windows….
The vague thought that I’ve been having this whole time and the silhouette of this person in front of me finally come together.
I unconsciously pointed at him and took it back. Ah, that was dangerous … But, wait, I’m really surprised.
It’s often said that removing someone’s glasses changes their impression, but his face’s impression became increasingly weak without his glasses.
That’s right, he’s that Titus—the one who entered the academy to pose as Prince Edwin’s observer, and met together with Bern to screw Alois over.
“That’s rightttt! Don’t tell me you only realized it just now?!”
The young man, or Titus, exaggeratedly bent his body and shouted, ‘So meannnnn!’
Bern wasn’t really surprised and just said, ‘Good for you for recognizing him.‘ His reaction was as if he had expected for me to not recognize that the young man in front of me was Titus.
Was that talk about the window a hint for me? If that’s the case, you should have told me earlier that he was Titus!
At times like this, I could only do that.
In the meantime, I just pretended to laugh.
After joking around like this, the conversation swiftly went back to usual.
I wasn’t satisfied with their explanations, but because I couldn’t make a fuss about it, my useless self just stayed quiet the whole time.
Which reminds me, isn’t this the first time that Bern has brought me to a strategy meeting? Thinking about it, I somehow became happier thinking that his trust in me is growing. Well, I mean, this time is a rescue mission.
The gist of the plan went something like this:
First, Bern and the rest will enter the residence pretending to be an orchestra that was invited to perform.
As for the actual orchestra members, they’ll pretend to be people from the Bormann residence telling them that it was postponed, and give them money as apology, so they wouldn’t butt heads with the actual members.
Of course, they won’t really perform. They’ll split into two groups, with Bern heading to the room where Elmenhilde was being held. Then she’ll get on a carriage that will be waiting at the designated place and escape.
On the other hand, the people left behind in the residence will have the horses escape and destroy the carriage so they wouldn’t be able to run after her.
The carriage Elmenhilde will be in will head nonstop to Bell. She’ll be handed over to someone she knows waiting at a navy garrison, and all’s well that ends well.
But if that plan goes through, I wouldn’t be able to meet Elmenhilde for a second time, right?
I’ve had a lot of things happen with her, but she’s not really a mean person. She’s somewhat oblivious to the ways of the world and her prejudice was slightly intense, but her sense of justice is strong and she even worried about me.
I probably don’t hate her as much.
Even if we arrived at Bell before she does, it looks like she’ll have to immediately board the ship and leave.
Why not ride together on the same carriage?
“Though I’m slightly worried about the number of people we have.”
“You mean having someone ride the carriage together with Elmenhilde?”
“That’s not exactly a problem, but that might slow them down.”
Ah, I see. There’s no way, huh?
“As for how many we need to leave behind in the residence….”
“We don’t need to suppress them, so….”
They seemed worried.
Worried or maybe troubled.
There was absolutely nothing I wanted to say. I had nothing I wanted to strongly express as well.
But I can’t let them make such miserable-looking expressions with that last part. My relationship with her was once that of rivals and is now complicated that it might be less than that of friends. Our first meeting was intense, and after hearing her situation, I felt pity for her. She has given me some grievances, but I don’t think too badly of her since she talked to me about what she likes about Bern.
That’s why if I’m unable to meet her a second time, I’d like to at least remember her face more clearly.
I want to properly say my goodbyes to her and help send her off from the bottom of my heart.
It’s just that my being meddlesome might come off as self-preservation.
Because from here on out, Elmenhilde will have a hard time.
And that’s why if I could meet her again—
The men who were ironing out the details of the plan looked at me with perplexed faces.
I calmly warned myself, ‘It might be best to just let it go.’
A burden is a burden; staying quiet and not being troublesome might allow things to proceed more smoothly.
I repeatedly told myself those things.
To be honest, half of me was worried and thought I should just stop. But if I don’t say anything, I might forever regret it.
Besides, I think I’m plenty strong enough. I managed to hit someone with a shovel. Ah, wait, I’m slightly reconsidering that now. There should be a more peaceful way of resolving things. By no means is it something I should be proud of. Wait, that’s not what I should be worrying about right now.
In short, wouldn’t it be lonesome of me to part with Elmenhilde like this?!
That was pretty much it.
If it stays like this, she’ll end up just having to get on the ship! Wouldn’t that just make you want to run and catch her?!
“Is it fine if I tag along as well?”
Bern’s eyes were perfectly round and asked me in a murmur.
‘Where’ I mean, there’s only one place, right?
“To where Elmenhilde is.”
“I’d like to check your belongings.”
A well-dressed old man whose expression completely seemed like a doll daunted us, not allowing us to agree or disagree to his demand.
I left the violin case I had in hand on top of the table he gestured to, and he looked inside. Of course, what he sees on top of the velvet was a real violin, with no secret, bottom layer below it.
We were immediately kept inside a room after entering from the Bormann residence’s back entrance. The old butler and several other employees checked our belongings and did a body check as well.
Even though I didn’t bring anything I should feel guilty about, because we came here for dubious reasons, my heart couldn’t help but pound in my chest.
To be quite honest, I’m really nervous.
Their persistent requests included strictly abiding by the rules, and on the condition that we don’t leave their side, we were somehow stripped of permission to loiter around.
Ah~ Good luck, me.
I thought at a glance, ‘They’re really against it, huh?’ They must have seen my enthusiasm.
Elmenhilde normally wouldn’t panic if she was me, and almost all the employees here don’t seem to have knowledge of martial arts. It looks like they’re trying to avoid fighting as much as possible.
It’s probably not because of Elmenhilde, but because they worship my bitter enemy, Bormann’s, face.
Even so, this situation is really amazing.
Isn’t pretending to be orchestra members something like that…? Mission Impossible, or like 007—spy movies!
Ugh… I can’t. This is no time for games.
But I mean, there’s no way you can’t get excited in this situation, right….?
As I carefully thought that, we were led through a corridor that was randomly and uselessly decorated with portraits and kept in a dining room temporarily.
Empty cutlery and plates were lined up on a long table, and as to make the room even more over the top, chandeliers shone and sparkled above. Although it’s certainly beautiful, it just makes me feel as if it’s gaudy, but I’m not sure if it’s because I hate Bormann so much right now to the point that I also hate his ornaments.
After the butler explained the program to us, we were lead to a waiting room.
“Please wait here until the time comes. The party will be starting soon, so feel free to fine tune your instruments. There will be two people waiting outside the door, so if you have any business to take care of, please do instruct them instead. I shall now take my leave then.”
The butler smoothly headed towards the doors, and to make sure he disappeared, we stayed silent for a bit.
“Let’s do this.”
Titus removed his jacket.
“Shall we go?”
That was the signal for us to start on our own jobs.
As with Titus, Bern took off his jacket and stood comfortably in black trousers and a shirt.
I don’t particularly need to change clothes, so I could only take a deep breath.
Man, I’m so nervous.
I may have been even more nervous than when I had my first dance at an evening party.
All of our eyes met, confirming that we were ready.
There was a sudden, loud bang! and Titus fell down in pain.
Just as planned, I screamed.
My voice cracked slightly from being too nervous, but instead, it made it sound even more realistic.
When I did this, the two male employees standing in front of the door, just as the butler said, frantically came in.
“He suddenly fell…!”
The two of them entered the room completely, and after confirming that no one else was out in the corridors, closed the doors.
What happens afterwards was going to be dangerous, so I escaped to a corner of the room.
When I thought that Bern was going to quietly give them the run about, he stood behind one of the guys who crouched down to check on Titus’ condition as he squirmed on the floor and strangled him with his arm.
The man who was being strangled noisily swung his limbs around, but Bern’s arm remained unmoved.
The other man noticed the sound of his partner and tried to look back, but Titus drove his fist into his face.
The man made a weird sound and fell.
The one with Bern immediately turned limp, and his limbs fell to his sides.
“Hey, do you always do it like this?”
“Sometimes. Not all the time.”
Sometimes, huh…? You only do it sometimes, huh…?
Wait, I can’t think of unnecessary things right now.
They stripped off the jackets of the men who fainted, tied them up, and rolled them into a corner of the room.
Bern and Titus wore the stolen jackets. At once, they looked like servants of the house.
We went down the corridor as we cautiously checked our surroundings, splitting up with Titus as he went to the stables while Bern and I went to search the second floor.
By the way, I brought my violin without its case for self-defense, but ‘Even if I didn’t have this, I’m not that stupid,’ is what I thought as I followed after Bern.
If I can hit someone with a shovel, I can hit with a violin as well.
I can hold the place where the strings are taut, and then like that— I pray it won’t have to come to that for the sake of the person who made this violin.
We passed by other employees on the way, but when Bern, who looked like a servant, slightly looked down, we passed through without them batting an eye at us. There were some who would look behind him at me, but seeing as I had a violin in my hand, they would make a face saying, ‘Ah, it’s one of those entertainment people who came,’ and would let me through.
Rather, it looks like security is being handled by somebody else today, and the preparations for the party seem to be in considerable haste. It seems like they don’t have time to worry about unnecessary things, and everyone around me are hastily walking down the corridor.
We slipped from the employees who were busy in the dining room and headed towards the stairs up the second floor.
It would be even more obvious if we went to the second floor from the entrance, so we went further inside the residence that the employees use to climb up to the second floor.
We hurriedly went through the empty corridor towards the room that Elmenhilde was being kept in.
I was still nervous, so when I ran, my knees lost their strength.
What should I do if I trip…?
Ehhh, no way, I don’t want that!
We went around several turns, and soon, her room came into view.
Suddenly, Bern stopped and held me back with his hand. Even though I was about to bump into him, I managed to stop and put my back close to the wall like he did.
“… There’s a guard.”
Isn’t this kind of situation turning out exactly like a movie?!
“Lizzy, can you lure him here?”
Okay, leave it to me!
With that enthusiasm, I jumped out of the corner.
Ah, wait, I did jump out, but my knees were about to give way, so if I had to put it better words, it’s more like I came out tottering.
When I grasped the violin in front of my chest while looking around restlessly, the man who was standing by the entrance at the room at the end approached in suspicion.
“What’re you doing here?”
Crap, his body’s big, his arms too—Eh, s-scary!
The man rapidly came up to me.
“… I got lost.”
This kind of situation calls for that! In the meantime, let’s just laugh it off! Somehow, I feel like this is the second time I’ve done this today though!
I awkwardly laughed while slowly backing up.
The corridor made a T-shape, and it was just by chance that the way we came was from the bottom part of it, so I had no choice but to back up.
I wanted to look in Bern’s direction, but it’d be bad for us to get caught, so I could only look straight at the intimidating air the scary guy was giving off.
The man took long strides towards the corner where Bern was hiding.
At that moment, like a black shadow, Bern flew out and firmly grabbed hold of the man’s chest.
Faster than the man who raised his fists, he tripped him as he nimbly hit the base of his neck, above his collarbone, with the side of his palm. All as I watched.
Even though that was all he did, the man suddenly fell backwards and fainted with a thump.
Bern gently laid the man’s body down and dragged him into a nearby room.
I’m at a loss for words.
What was that just now?
Eh, wh-what was that!? Eh!!?